Shellfish restoration and protection in Kitsap Public Health District

A 2014 report by the Kitsap Public Heath District describes the goals and achievements of the Shellfish Restoration and Protection Project including: increasing harvestable shellfish growing areas, establishing a routine shoreline monitoring program, improving water quality, and increasing education of water quality and shellfish protection.

Report cover photo.
Report cover photo.

Executive Summary

In 2010 Kitsap Public Health District received a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct the Shellfish Restoration and Protection Project. Clean Water Kitsap provided matching funds for this grant. The purpose for the project was to restore and protect shellfish growing areas throughout Kitsap County by conducting a comprehensive shorelinesurvey.  It was also to demonstrate our proven, on-the-ground approach, to investigate and correct sources of fecal pollution. 

The goals for this project were to:
• Achieve an increase in harvestable shellfish growing areas
• Obtain sustainable funding to establish a routine shoreline monitoring program
• Achieve measureable improvements in water quality in at least 50% of targeted freshand marine waters
• Increase education and awareness of water quality and shellfish protection
• Achieve sustained participation in a local community shellfish farm

Kitsap Public Health successfully completed the project by meeting the goals and objectives set forth in the grant contract and work plan.  Shoreline surveys were conducted in all project areas and expanded on Bainbridge Island to include more shoreline areas on the Island than initially proposed (Figure 1.)

An increase in harvestable shellfish growing areas was achieved.  This occurred in Fragaria, Prospect Point, and Wilson creek drainages along Colvos Passage (located in southeastern Kitsap County) with an upgrade of 30.1 acres. There was also a small upgrade of 1.2 acres in the Holly area on Hood Canal.  The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is in the process of conducting monitoring in the currently prohibited area of Miller Bay, in response to a shellfish harvest application that was received during this project.  This could result in an upgrade of 270 acres. Kitsap Public Health’s shoreline survey information and the results from this project will be used by DOH to support this upgrade.

As a result of the successful completion of this project, Kitsap Public Health received sustainable funding from Clean Water Kitsap to establish an ongoing shoreline monitoring program.  All classified shoreline growing areas in Kitsap County will be surveyed on a 4 year rotational basis, thereby enabling Kitsap Public Health to proactively address fecal water pollution sources on a more targeted and frequent basis.  This shoreline monitoring program  Achieve sustained part will be conducted in accordance with the shoreline monitoring plan approved by the Washington State Department of Ecology. (KPHD Shoreline Monitoring Plan 2013). This ongoing shoreline monitoring program will also enhance coordination with the DOH.  Kitsap Public Health will continue to notify DOH of potential fecal pollution sources to marine waters and subsequent identification and correction of these sources.  We will also continue to provide additional information to DOH to assist with the agency’s shellfish growing area reports.

Kitsap Public Health completed 558 property inspections during this project (which exceeded our target of 115 inspections).  There were 126 shoreline hot spots identified and investigated, with 56 onsite septic system failures identified. These septic system failures have either been corrected or are in the process of being corrected.  

Kitsap Public Health has been conducting pollution identification and correction (PIC) projects since 1996.  On average there has been an onsite septic system failure rate of 7% (found during property inspections, public complaints and shoreline investigations). Since this project focused on tracking sources from shoreline “hot spots” the onsite septic system failure rate was higher at 10%.  This demonstrated the effectiveness of using a more targeted approach.  We also worked with the Puget Sound Restoration Fund (PSRF) to provide education and outreach related to increasing participation in the Port Madison Community Shellfish Farm.  PSRF exceeded their goal for participation in the farm from 13 families in 2010 to 59 families in 2013. Educational materials and information was provided throughout the community raising the level of awareness regarding the importance of water quality and shellfish protection.


Crim, E. (2014) Shellfish Restoration & Protection Project: Kitsap Public Health District. Kitsap Public Health District, Bremerton, Washington.

Download full report (PDF)